Complaint with formation of civil party

Verified 14 June 2023 - Legal and Administrative Information Directorate (Prime Minister)

You filed a complaint and the complaint was dismissed by the public prosecutor? You can file a complaint as a civil party. We'll explain the procedure.

The complaint with constitution of civil party allows the victim of a infringement to seize a judge of instruction to open a judicial inquiry.

Criminal investigation is the stage of criminal proceedings that precedes a judgment and which makes it possible to establish whether an offense has been committed and to determine the possible perpetrators.

The civil party complaint thus enables the victim to override a ranking without follow-up or a lack of response from the parquet floor.

If, at the end of the judicial inquiry, the investigating judge decides that the offender must be tried by the court, the victim may request damages.


The civil party complaint must not be confused with the simple complaint. The complaint triggers apolice investigation whereas the complaint with the constitution of civil party refers the case to the investigating judge.

To file a civil party complaint, you must be a victim of an offense.

Major victim

To file a civil party complaint, you must have personally suffered harm caused by the offense.

Such damage may be non-pecuniary, bodily or material (e.g. loss of money).


You can bring a civil suit without necessarily seeking damages.

Minor victim

If you are a minor, you cannot file a civil claim on your own. Your parents or your legal representative must do so on your behalf.

You must have personally suffered harm as a result of the offense.

Such damage may be non-pecuniary, bodily or material (e.g. loss of money).

You must justify thata simple complaint was not successful.

In some cases, you can file a complaint directly with the constitution of civil party without having complained beforehand. It is if you are victim of a crime, a press offense (insult, defamation...) or a violation of the electoral code.

In other cases, you must always have filed a complaint for the same facts before to be able to lodge a complaint with the formation of a civil party.

A civil party complaint is possible in the following cases:

  • The simple complaint is dismissed
  • The simple complaint has been filed with the prosecutor for 3 months without any follow-up
  • The copy of the simple complaint filed with a police or gendarmerie service has been transmitted to the public prosecutor for 3 months and no follow-up has been given


it is not not possible to lodge a complaint with the formation of civil party for a contravention.

You must justify that your complaint did not succeed with one of the following documents:

  • Notice of no follow-up classification
  • Proof dated the filing of the complaint, i.e. the receipt in case of filing directly to the court (or the acknowledgement of receipt in case of sending by registered mail)
  • Proof of transmission of the copy of the complaint to the prosecutor for at least 3 months. That is, the receipt in case of deposit directly to the court or the acknowledgement of receipt in case of sending by registered mail.

Please note

if you have requested damages before a civil judge between your simple complaint and your civil party complaint, you must annul this request before bringing the case before the investigating judge.

Drafting and filing of the complaint

Your filing of a complaint with the formation of a civil party is by a signed and dated mail or by oral statement before the investigating judge.

If your complaint is sent by mail, you must indicate the following:

  • Your willingness to file a complaint and become a civil party
  • Facts reported for which you consider yourself a victim (giving the legal classification of the offense or crime is not essential)
  • Identity of the alleged perpetrator (otherwise the complaint must be against X)
  • Address in France
  • Information about your simple complaint that did not succeed (with supporting documents)
  • Request for damages possible

You can use a mail template or write it on free paper:

Lodge a complaint with a civil party


if the complaint involves a press offense (insult, defamation...), you must indicate the offenses and laws applicable to the facts you report.

Your mail is sent by simple or registered letter with acknowledgement of receipt to the investigating judge of the court of justice of the place of the offense or of the domicile of the offender.

In each court, an investigative judge is responsible for receiving all civil party complaints. This is usually the dean of the investigating judges, the longest-serving judge.

Who shall I contact

You may be assisted by a lawyer.

Who shall I contact

Deposit of a consignment

After filing a complaint with the constitution of civil party, the dean of the investigating judges asks you to pay a sum called consignment. The judge shall fix the amount of such deposit based on your income.

Logging must be paid within a time limit fixed by the court. If this deadline is not met, the complaint may be dismissed.

This sum guarantees the payment of a possible fine if the complaint proves to be abusive (for example, fabricated facts). This fine is €15,000 maximum.

In other cases, the consignment shall be returned at the end of the investigation, whether or not there is a trial.


You do not have to pay a deposit if you have obtained legal aid for this procedure. You may also not have to pay a deposit on the judge's decision.

Transmission to the prosecutor

The complaint is then forwarded by the Dean of the Investigating Judges to the Public Prosecutor for an opinion called requisitions.

Before taking his requisitions, the public prosecutor may ask the investigating judge to hear you as a civil party and a period of 3 months to continue the investigation.

In his application, the public prosecutor may ask the investigating judge to open a judicial inquiry. It may also ask the complainant to disregard the complaint (for example, if it considers that the facts do not constitute an offense).

Please note

when the prosecutor asks the judge to disregard the complaint, he can tell you that you can use the direct quotation to have the suspect summoned to court.

Decision of the investigating judge

The Dean of Investigating Judges may decide to follow or not to follow the requests of the public prosecutor.

The judge may hear you on his own initiative or at the request of the prosecutor.

If the dean decides to open a judicial inquiry, he shall then designate the investigating judge to investigate. He can designate himself.

If the judge refuses, he'll take a ordinance refusal to inform. This is the case if the alleged offense is not a criminal offense or if it is clear that it has not been committed. In the event of a refusal to inform, the investigation shall not be initiated.

You can appeal of the decision refusing to inform within 10 days following the notification of this decision. The call must be made on-site by a statement to the Registrar of the investigating judge. That statement is signed by you or your lawyer and the clerk.

Who shall I contact

Appeals against decisions refusing to inform are heard by the Investigative Chamber of the Court of Appeal.

Please note

if the investigative judge refuses to open a criminal investigation, the person against whom the complaint is made can sue you for slanderous denunciation and demand payment of damages.

If criminal investigation is open, you, the complainant, become a civil party.

Follow-up to the survey

As a civil party, you have access to the file and you may be assisted by a lawyer. This is the case, for example, when you are heard by the judge.

You can to ask the judge for investigative measures : the hearing of a witness, expertise, confrontation, etc.

You receive decisions taken by the investigating judge and you are informed of the expected time for completion of the investigation.


If, at the end of the proceedings, the perpetrator is tried, you may request as a civil party that your damage is compensated by granting damages.

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